Often we hear about the significance of listening skills in a friendship or romantic partnership. However, good listening skills can be applied to the business world as well. Listening skills are important for any healthy relationship, whether it be personal or professional.
In any typical business day, we spend 45% of our time listening, 30% of our time talking, 16% reading and 9% writing. Whatever your position is within a business, listening to your boss, customer, or employees is vital to succeeding in the small business world. The relationships you build within a business will carry throughout your entire career. Here are some tips to listening better and building better business relationships.
Encourage Feedback in Multiple Venues and Forms
This is extremely important. If your business has a blog or a website, make sure there is a comment section where your customers can easily post their feedback. This creates an open and honest relationship between your business and your customers. Encourage constructive criticism from your customers; this will help you understand their point of view and how happy they are with your product or services.
This goes for other communication as well. Online communication venues such as blogs are great for customers, but the employees of a business may find it easier to communicate in person or via email. If you own a business, make sure to be open and communicative with your employees. Have an email that you check regularly or hold open office hours once a month to encourage open communication and feedback between you and your employees. Be available and willing to listen: everyone will appreciate it.
Show that You Care
This isn’t so much as a listening skill but as a general behavior. As a business owner or business leader, showing that you care about your business and your employees can make a huge difference in your professional relationships. When you care about your employees, they will work harder and aim to succeed; employees want to be led by someone who cares about them and the business. Remember, employees are people, not just tools to help you succeed.
Judgment is assuming something without knowing all the facts, i.e. not listening! Don’t judge or criticize until you know the whole story. Taking a step back, listening to all sides or looking a situation from a different point of view significantly increases your understanding of the situation. Quick judgment demonstrates immaturity, and no one wants a business relationship with someone who is immature.
This seems like an obvious one, but many people in business do it without realizing. As a business owner, boss, or even a fellow employee, interrupting isn’t a likeable quality. Be compassionate and don’t disrupt the person’s train of thought. Stay focused on what is being said and be patient. People appreciate others who listen and care about what they have to say.
Less than 2% of all professionals have had formal education or learning to understand and improve listening skills and techniques. Don’t fall into that majority of business leaders! The people you interact with on a daily basis are the ones you need to form and keep healthy relationships with. Business professionals can greatly improve the relationships they have by strengthening and improving their listening skills.
Do you have any tips that have helped you improve your business relationships? Post in the comment section below; we would love to hear your input!